A doctor once told me to take up a hobby and that people who have hobbies are less prone to stress related diseases. A hobby which has no deadlines, no pressures, and one that which can be picked up or left easily, takes the mind off stresses. So I did , and I chose crocheting. Now, whether or not hobbies can be an outlet for your stress, I really could’t tell you, but I can positively concur, crocheting is a stress reliever for me.
I was twenty years old when I brought my first crochet hook. Keep in mind, I learned to crochet in a pre computer, pre internet world. When I first began to crochet I was the only person I knew that crocheted. I had no friends, groups, or You Tube video or even a web page tutorial to help me learn. Just stacks and stacks of beginning – “How to,“ books I had bought from a local dime store.
In order to make this a stress free hobby I had to develop some habits in my crocheting routine. Habits that were uncovered and found necessary by trial and error learning throughout my first year. I am going to share with you some of the things I still keep as a constant routine in my crocheting world.
1. First of all have a relaxing environment. This is going to have be something you look forward to, so make it that way. I had a one and two year old when I first began. Learning a new stitch when they were up I soon learned, was pointless. I soon looked forward to their nap time. I would put on some mellow music, grab my pattern books and hook and lose myself in the stitches. Today I will even brew myself a cup of hot tea, to sip on while I crochet. Whatever your situation, go out of your way to make it a relaxing environment that you enjoy.
2. Once an hour I take a break. For a minute of two, I will put my crocheting down, stretch my hands and take a walk to the another room. I have found this helps me to refocus and helps me to come back refreshed.
3. Form a habit of crocheting a swatch. I cannot stress the importance of this one habit. There is nothings so discouraging as finishing a project only to discover that it is the wrong measurements. I have included a link that discussing this subject topic in more detail. (How to Gauge)
4. Count, count and count. It might seem like a trivial thing, but in my crochet world this one little habit has saved me hours and hours of pulling out and starting over. I can remember starting projects over three or four different times, just because I did not take the time to count my foundation row. I take the time to count my stitches. This is far less time consuming then crocheting repeatedly over and over.
5. Crochet with a friend or take a class. If you are not really a self learning type of person, maybe you might would like to invite someone over to crochet with you. In the area I live there is a lot of libraries that offer a crocheting/knitting groups. There is always the option of learning to crochet in a class environment. Sometimes, just taking a class it will show your some techniques, short cuts and how to properly execute the stitches. Learning to do some of these things correctly can take a lot of stress out of your life. If you live in northern Illinois I teach thirteen different classes I have included a link to descibe some of them.
6. Crochet within your skill level. Choosing a pattern that is way to advanced for your present skill level can be both frustrating and discouraging. I have included a link that will discuss this in more detail how to help you choose the right pattern for your skill level. (Choosing the Right Pattern for my Skill Level)
7. Organize your crochet tools. I know this seem far to basic, but there is nothing like being halfway though a project and losing your hook, or a skien of yarn to sidetrack you. I have all my crocheting tools in one bag. I have had students that keep everything in a basket, or a shelf in a closet. I had a few students who had entire rooms dedicated to their hobbies. For me, I invested in a good crocheting bag and that is where all my tools are kept. In all my years of crocheting I can honestly say I have never had to repurchase a crochet hook. This is due to taking the time to organize my tools. I have included a link to discuss what I keep handy and how I organize my bag. (A Tour through My Crocheting Bag)
8. Storage for yarn stashes. If you have been crocheting for any length of time you will soon discover that the yarn will increase quickly. There is yarn you found in the store, that you just had to have. Yarn left over from projects, yarn for upcoming projects you plan on starting, yarn you found at the local thrift store or neighborhood yard sale. No matter where you obtain your yarn, the fact is that you need a place to store it. A place where you can quickly locate it. I have included a link to discuss this topic in more detail. (How to Organize Your Yarn) and (Organizing Crochet Patterns)
9. Remove the deadlines. There is nothing like the pressure of finishing a project on a deadline. There are few things you can do to remove this aspect of crocheting. First, I always have on hand two baby gifts, one for a boy and one for a girl. When one is used, I work on replacing it before the need arises. When ever you have a deadline such as a birthday or Christmas season, try to give yourself one or two months extra before the date. For example, if it takes you one month to crochet a birthday gift, then start it two to three months ahead. This will take all the stress out of finishing in time.
10. Invest in good lighting. I have a chair I always crochet in. It is supplied with a table, a place for my crocheting bag, a basket to store yarn for upcoming projects in the near future and a good lamp. I am fifty years old, I am also an avid reader and crocheter and I would like to continue these enjoyments all the days of my life. I can not expect to do so without good eye sight. I have a strong respect for eyes and will try to do all I can to help preserve them. Good lighting in my crocheting not only helps my eyesight, but it also helps me to crochet better and make fewer mistakes.
I know this sounds like a lot, but once you have everything in place it really help to free up your time and helps you to devote more time toward actually crocheting. I can now just walk into my living room and once I have picked out the pattern and yarn, I have everything I need to finish a project right there by my chair. I never have to look for my yarn, hooks or crocheting tools, even my patterns are right there. All just waiting for me to pick up and enjoy at a moments notice.
If you have any suggestions or tips that has taken the stress out of your crocheting world, please share. Your experience may be the tip that makes this a life long hobby for someone else to enjoy.
Until next time, keep those hooks flying.